Gilbert dreams of rainbow jersey, but not this year

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain (VN) - Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) just keeps on winning at will, but there's one race that he's determined to win one day, and that's the world championships.

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2011 Clasica San Sebastian, Philippe Gilbert at the start
Philippe Gilbert was all smiles before the start of Saturday's Clasica San Sebastian - six hours later he won. Photo: Andrew Hood

Belgian star still not decided on his team for next season

SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain (VN) – Philippe Gilbert (Omega Pharma-Lotto) just keeps on winning at will, but there’s one race that he’s determined to win one day, and that’s the world championships.

Gilbert admits that this year’s sprinter course in Copenhagen is not tailored to his racing style, but he hopes to wear the rainbow jersey within the next few years.

“This year is not ideal for me, but I will go … if I am selected,” Gilbert joked. “The courses in 2012 in Holland and 2013 in Florence are much better for me. It’s my dream to win the rainbow jersey.”

Gilbert’s incredible season continued Saturday with a well-timed attack on an unrated hill just less than 4km from the line to solo home the win in the Clásica San Sebastiån.

The victory was his ninth major one-day classic win dating back to his breakthrough 2008 victory at Paris-Tours.

Despite a strong showing in the first half of the Tour de France, Gilbert says he’s committed to one-day racing and stage-hunting in the grand tours.

“I love one-day races,” he said. “There’s no point in me sacrificing everything for the Tour and maybe finish sixth or seventh or eighth. It’s more important to win a stage or take the yellow jersey. I want to win all the classics. I was born for those kinds of races.”

On Sunday, Gilbert was scheduled to fly back to Belgium and not race for the first day since winning the opening stage of the 2011 Tour. Since concluding the Tour last week in Paris, Gilbert has been hitting the post-Tour criterium series and pocketing some serious cash in appearance fees.

For the remainder of the 2011 season, Gilbert said he will race at the Eneco Tour, Hamburg, Paris-Tours, the Giro di Lombardia as well as the Canadian races before heading to the worlds, where he will ride to help compatriot Tom Boonen.

“I would like to end the season ranked No. 1 in the world,” Gilbert said. “I am 92 points behind Cadel Evans, so I will keep racing a lot to try to reach this goal.” (Related: WorldTour rankings)

Gilbert also said he’s still not decided on his future. Rumors are flying that he’s headed to BMC, but Omega Pharma-Lotto is said to have reached an agreement to join forces with another existing European team that would allow them to have the money to pay Gilbert’s salary.

“It’s a difficult situation,” Gilbert said of his contract. “I know that August 1 would be the day that I would announce my team for the coming season and I know that a lot of people are curious to know, but I am afraid that it won’t be possible. Making a decision will not be easy. All I know is that I want to make one as soon as possible.”